China of the Tourists: Women and the Grand Tour of the Middle Kingdom, 1878–1923

Kuehn Julia

in Asian Crossings

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9789622099142
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206632 | DOI:
China of the Tourists: Women and the Grand Tour of the Middle Kingdom, 1878–1923

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This chapter looks at women travelers in China between the late 1870s and the early 1920s. It specifically determines a first generation of women's travel in China exemplified in Isabella Bird's The Yangtze Valley and Beyond (1899) and Constance Gordon Cumming's Wanderings in China (1888). It also poses the question of whether their journeys served as more prescriptive itineraries for later women travelers and, in fact, established the frameworks of what is called a Grand Tour of China. It starts by reviewing Bird's and Cumming's travel routes. It then introduces Eliza Scidmore's travel guide and finally moves into a discussion of how the second generation of female travelers describes the most prominent travel destination on their Grand Tour of China — the capital Beijing — between 1900 and 1924. The accounts of pioneering British women led to the more systematic travel itineraries of succeeding American women. Traveling educated not only the mind but also the senses and feelings, as the recurring encounters with Chinese women show.

Keywords: Isabella Bird; Constance Gordon Cumming; female travelers; Wanderings in China; Grand Tour; travel routes; travel guide; traveling

Chapter.  6625 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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